[FILM] Riddick

I was really looking forward to seeing Riddick, so much so that I purposely avoided everything written about it just in case it tainted my perception or ruined any elements of the movie for me. If I’m honest, now that I have seen it, I realise I needn’t have bothered.

Lauded as a picture that would herald the franchise’s return to the subtle glory of the Pitch Black days, Riddick was rumoured to be a project that would delight those fans who enjoyed the original and were left wanting more by the subsequent Chronicles. I was surprised and slightly impressed by the news that Vin Diesel himself had to continue funding the film personally in order for it to reach its completion. It is obvious that Riddick is a character close to his heart, and so he probably should be, as he is by far the most challenging and prolific role Diesel has played in his intermittent career.

One does not simply walk into Furya.

One does not simply walk into Furya.

The first thirty minutes or so of Riddick were quite enjoyable. Betrayed and left for dead on quite the inhospitable planet, Riddick attempts to overcome his injuries while simultaneously fighting off vicious alien creatures that are all intent on having him for lunch. At this point I am struck by two things. Firstly, if I was ever in any doubt as to just how badass Riddick is, it was completely vanquished in this opening piece. He is hardcore. And secondly, every planet this dude steps onto wants to kill him. And they’re all populated with scary nasties. But this is good, because this is what we want to see in a Riddick film. It is predominantly silent, with little to no speaking apart from a narrative, and while this could be seen as a risky maneuver, I thought it was done rather well.

It doesn’t last though. After overcoming a few personal challenges and befriending a hell beast he unfortunately moves on from solitary and the dialogue starts. We’re introduced to a group of primarily stereotypical mercenary/bounty hunter type folks who we know the majority of will be Planet Nasty fodder and will provide ample opportunity for Riddick to show us just how cunning he is. Initially I was delighted to find out that Katee Sackhoff would be present, playing a sniping bounty hunter by the name of Dahl, but I feel she was grossly misused in this movie. Matthew Nable’s performance as Big Johns left a lot to be desired too, and I wasn’t at all convinced by him. At this point I’m disappointed at the realisation that there will be no more Karl Urban.

NEEDZ MOAR KURBAN.

NEEDZ MOAR KURBAN.

I’m dismayed by the obvious stupidity of the group and how easy it is for Riddick to manipulate them. That said, while some of the death/kill scenes were riddickulous they were also hilarious and prompted one or two guffaws from yours truly. Parts of it worked, parts of it didn’t. The pacing felt wrong to me and the placement and order of the acts appeared random and without structure. The ending and the climax of the escape felt like it belonged in the middle of the story, and I got the impression that a lot of possibly important scenes must have ended up on the editing room floor in order to keep the run-time just shy of the two hours.

Some things were just not explained to me in an adequate fashion. Like why Johns would return for Riddick after initially abandoning him, for example. Oh, and of course the implication that a lesbian would go straight for Riddick. But who am I kidding, who wouldn’t do a u-turn on their sexuality when the badass anti-hero tells you he likes your boobs and wants to be “balls deep” inside of you?

Tits or GTFO.

Tits or GTFO.

All of that said, it wasn’t a total flop for me. As always I enjoyed the duality of Riddick’s anti-hero nature, his general BAMF approach to everything and of course, his voice. My mind wandered often as I contemplated his voice…

I feel as though the experience can be summed up with a quote from my brother, who accompanied me to see Riddick: “There are worse things you could spend two hours of your life doing.”

IMDB Rating: 7.1
Do I agree?: No. It’s an adequate, if not slightly dissatisfactory 6 from me.



Categories: Film, Review

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42 replies

  1. Wha- So jealous!! I have not seen this yet, but its gonna happen….oh yeah…gonna happen

  2. Sigh…I was really looking forward to seeing Katee Sackhoff. She was one of my favorites on BSG. Ah well, she’s on TV on occasion and I’m sure she’ll be back on the big screen soon.

    Vin Diesel is OK, but for me he’s a little one dimensional as an actor. Although, I did enjoy his comedic side in the Pacifier. Fortunately, I don’t share your vicarious reaction to his voice.

    Nice Review!

    • She’s one of my BSG favs too, and don’t get me wrong JF, she delivers the badass Starbuck reminiscent ‘tude we know and love in places. But I was a tad disappointed with what they did with her character.

      Weirdly enough, I agree on The Pacifier. Never thought I’d actually say it but it wasn’t completely awful. :D

  3. Lmao “tits or gtfo.” That feels like an appropriate tagline for THIS film. Luv your comments about the pacing of the film. DEFINITELY needed more Urban!
    I saw this movie w/ a female friend, & she felt it was the most male chauvinistic films she’d ever seen in her life.
    At first, I thought she was being over the top w/ her judgement, but then she made some valid points. Granted, this is Riddick’s Universe full of all types of unsavory individuals, but the women were really belittled in the film. All the women were either naked or killed or raped (the prisoner) at some point.
    She was horrified by Katee Sackhoff who she’s been a big fan of since BSG (I’m not a fan of that series). She’s supposed to be a lesbian—but Riddick makes one comment about her nipple color & she’s into him. “…Matches the color of your nipples.” If a guy told you that miss, would you wanna straddle him, much less, go from gay to straight for him??
    Bad Ass or not, you flat out tell a girl her nipple color is nice & you’re gonna get smacked even if she is your girlfriend or wife.
    I’m a fan of Vin’s, but I hope to God he doesn’t bring any of this crap over to Marvel when he starts working w/ them.

    • I wouldn’t agree that it was the most chauvinistic film I’ve ever seen, I think that is an exaggeration, but I can definitely see where your friend is coming from. Two female cast members. One the prisoner, who as you said was raped and then executed. The other a fellow bounty hunter, who was more than capable of holding her own but her skills and talents were kind of diminished by her over-sexualisation. One could argue that it would certainly be a more common occurrence for the character of Dahl to experience misogyny due to her chosen male-dominated field. I think anyone who chooses to be a bounty hunter or a mercenary, regardless of their gender, has to get tough and quickly. The weak ones, as we saw, were picked off systematically throughout the film. Despite Dahl being a woman, and automatically perceived to be weaker by the men involved, she was still able to protect herself. And when she gave it up, at least she gave it up of her own volition.

      I can’t say that it didn’t bother me a little, but I think I was more bemused by her pairing with Riddick. Sort of felt like she was a tacked on love interest just so there’d be some action for our protagonist, and the gay turned straight for one man tack felt just… a bit tacky. And completely unnecessary. I know having spoken to quite a few people about it now that the whole Dahl storyline did indeed offend to varying degrees.

  4. Haven’t seen it yet and I don’t know if I want to. Not a big Riddick fan to be honest. I might wait for it to drop on dvd then do a late review on it :]

  5. There will be a fourth and Karl Urban will be one of the main characters in it. That has been confirmed.

  6. I was hoping for much better but it was fun enough :D

  7. Hm, might have to give this a gander when it’s out for rental (although I don’t remember ever seeing Chronicles) if only for a bit of Katee Sackoff!

    Anyway, good review V – look forward to more of your unique style!

  8. I saw the first one in the theaters and it is the second movie I ever fell asleep in. Granted, my friends and I had been drinking Manhattans all day but it was still terrible when I re-watched years later. I don’t plan on visiting any of the franchise ever again so I’ll live them through this place here : )

    • What’s the first movie you fell asleep in? :D

      I fell asleep during Revolver. I wish I could say it was because of something cool like being drunk on Manhattans but in reality I was just really bored.

  9. While it is incredibly dumb, there is still some fun to be had here. Good review.

  10. I think I will give this a miss as it doesn’t sound too good. I didn’t like Pitch Black and never saw Chronicles of Riddick after reading some poor reviews.

    • I don’t think I’d recommend it to anyone who didn’t like the franchise. Although I’d be curious to hear your opinion of it as a stand-alone film. If you ever do see it, be sure to let me know!

  11. I still haven’t seen it, but when I do, I’ll let you know what I think of it :)

  12. Hmmm. I’m NOT counting the minutes until the cable premiere, but I’d guess February at this point with Blu-Ray discs hitting shops now in about three months from some films being in theaters… I can wait.

  13. So glad I don’t do movies… even ones that can turn the buckled to the straight! ;-)
    Anyway… here I find myself doing the unthinkable… reading spews about movies I’ve not seen or will most likely never see… unless, of course… drat, there goes that bent bit in me again. Where though, I ask you?
    OK… why do I read your spew? Maybe because I imagine you living through the good scenes and cursing the bad ones? Maybe because you tell it well and maybe because I think next year I’ll nominate you for some category in the Irish Blog Awards… you’ve got class! :-P

    • These are always the best kinds of compliments AJ, thank you. Someone who doesn’t do movies reads my movie reviews, it’s amazing really, and I love it!

      Also, there are Irish Blog Awards? Initially it conjured up images of us all eating a poorly mass produced dinner in a fancy hotel getting drunk on house wine and jeering all of the winners. In reality it’s most likely all of us sitting behind a computer screen in our pyjamas or underwear, but we can still drink wine and jeer.

  14. Hey V, finally saw it, it was my Christmas film! Not the most seasonal of films, but hey, it works :)

    I agree that Dahl (for most of it, I thought it was “Doll”) was severely underused and the plot could’ve been resolved quicker, including the escape. That sort of “understanding” and unresolved issue between Papa Johns (Can’t believe you didn’t think of this pun) and Riddick could’ve fueled a second act of the film, returning to Furya or just going after Undead Urban hahaha.

    As for merc stupidity, the first group are supposed to be idiots in order to make Johns’ mercs seem more prepared and capable, and all in all, they are.

    All in all it was an entertaining film, a good “popcorn movie”, as all Riddick’s before it. Pitch Black is still the best though :)

    One thing I’m continuously disappointed at with the Riddick franchise is the video games and the director’s cut of Chronicles include Furyan superpowers, of which the eyes are only the first, but they never give them enough focus, and even on those examples, their use is often off-screen and/or 2-second long.

    Then there’s Shirah, a furyan woman who speaks to Riddick in his dreams in the video game and again, in the director’s cut, but is never mentioned again, and she’s the one who unlocks his powers for him.

    I just hope future films in the franchise go into those Furyan mutant powers.

    While I enjoy the “back to basics” approach, I want them to continue to expand the universe. It’s a pretty cool setting.

    • I’ve never played the games! I’m not sure I’d like them to introduce “superpowers” into the movie franchise though, I’m not sure it would work. There are already super-human elements to Riddick, which is part of what makes him such an interesting character, but he’s still somewhat relatable even with his added physical extras. What kind of powers do they have in the games? Riddick is bad ass enough without the ability to levitate crates like a Jedi methinks.

      The film made plenty of profit, so no doubt we’ll be seeing at least one more installment. This time with more KUrban, hooray.

      • Actually, the first Riddick game (The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay – Xbox and later, enhanced even more for PC) was excellent because he’s only got his skills from the films (“eyeshine” to see in the dark, his fists and some guns he collects), there’s hand to hand fighting (well, fist to face) and darkness is used really well.

        The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Athena (PS3/Xbox 360/PC) is pretty decent as well AND it has a remastered Chronicles as well as a new game. Get that one (it’s dirt cheap these days) and enjoy. Vin Diesel worked closely with the developers on the games (Starbreeze and Tigon, the latter being the studio he helped create to work on games with him in them). In a way, Chronicles and Dark Athena are the better parts of the franchise to some people (me included)…

        Oh yeah, the games aren’t “based on” the films at ALL They’re two separate Riddick stories that fit into his arc (meaning these aren’t “licensed” games at all!)

        g.

        • Sounds good. The “eyeshine” skill is a good one, but it doesn’t make him overpowered, which I like. Also not at all surprised to hear he worked so closely with the developers to create the games, he seems to be completely smitten with the Riddick character. I’ll check out Escape From Butcher Bay so, thanks for the info mate!

      • Well, Furyans are physically superior to normal humans, so there’s “superpower 1″.

        The eyes, the “Eyeshine” is another of the Furyan superpowers. The other one’s called, very geekly, “Wrath of the Furyans”, it’s a shockwave emanating from him…

        Here’s a video, with horrendous quality, but I couldn’t find a better one. You can see the scene in the director’s cut

        That’s as far as superpowers go with Furyans hahahaha. But every time Riddick “gets” a power, there’s a vision of Shirah, and it introduces some spiritual elements to Furyans and the universe.

        And well, Chronicles had plenty of superpowers, because aside from Necros you had Elemental Judi Dench, made from Air hahahaha

        I think it’s fair to say I know my Riddick Universe :P

        • I get that he’s stronger and smarter than the average bear, but I still don’t think I’d like to see the superpowers from the games in the movies too. I like movie Riddick just as he is, I think he’d become a bit of a parody if they embraced the superpowers and the visions and stuff, take away that edge that makes him everyone’s favourite relatable anti-hero. Eyeshine and fists of fury sure, but shockwaves? No thanks!

          Chronicles is by far my least favourite of the films, probably because of all that elemental stuff, so the less I say about that, the better!

      • If you haven’t played the games, then I know what your Christmas Gift will be hahahaha

  15. Finally got to see it and it’s not too bad but it seems like two movies put together. The first is a survival adventure and the second is a rerun of Pitch Black.

    • Yes! My memory is a bit hazy on it now, because it’s been so long, but I definitely agree. I’ll have to rewatch it now that it’s been released on DVD and see if how I feel now matches up to what I originally felt.

      Did you enjoy it? Common consensus seems to be that it’s enjoyable, but nothing to write home about.

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